B.C. Liberals reward top staffers with pay increases far beyond the settlement “zone”

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VICTORIA – While the B.C. Liberal government tells teachers there is no more money, they are more than happy to hand out hefty pay raises to their top political staff far beyond what they characterize as the settlement “zone”, say the New Democrats.

“The fact that the B.C. Liberals are handing out significant pay increases to a number of their top political staff while telling teachers they have to bargain within the settlement zone is complete hypocrisy,” said New Democrat education critic Rob Fleming.

“The finance minister made a big deal about executive compensation breaches at the Royal B.C. Museum and the B.C. Cancer Agency, but he has nothing to say about these substantial increases in the offices of B.C. Liberal ministers.”

According to public disclosure documents on compensation released this week, more than six deputy ministers received pay raises of more than six per cent in 2013/2014, including Premier Clark’s personal friend and former deputy minister of Government Communications and Public Engagement, Athana Mentzelopoulos. Mentzelopoulos, who was responsible for signing off on the government’s education advertising campaign, saw her salary rise from $217,435 to $248,782 – a 14.4-per-cent increase.

Fleming noted that also topping the list were Lynda Tarras, deputy minister of the Public Service Agency, who received a salary increase of 10.65 per cent to $203,512, and Timothy McEwan, associate deputy minister at the Major Investments Office, who was bumped up by 9.15 per cent to $201,480.

“The Liberal finance minister refuses to look at more money for a fair deal for teachers by saying it is out of line with other public sector contracts,” said Fleming. “Yet his government goes and rewards its own staff with pay increases far in excess of that range. How is that not out of line?”

“The B.C. Liberals have already cost our kids the end of their school year with a strong possibility this strike will carry into September,” said Fleming. “It’s time they stop saying one thing to teachers while doing another for their political friends, and start negotiating in good faith.”